Imam, Educator, Soldier, Modernist? Envisioning New Worlds in the Lives of Muslims From the Warlord Era in Northwest China and Xinjiang

Conference: AAS-in-Asia2020 (AAS-in-Asia2020)
Title: Imam, Educator, Soldier, Modernist? Envisioning New Worlds in the Lives of Muslims From the Warlord Era in Northwest China and Xinjiang
Stream: History
Presentation Type: Panel Presentation
Authors:
Hannah Theaker, University of Oxford, United Kingdom (organizer, discussant)
Michael Zukosky, Eastern Washington University, United States (presenter)
Marie-Paule Hille, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, France (presenter)
Wang Jianping, Shanghai Normal University, China (presenter)

Abstract:

In the early twentieth century, Muslims in Northwest China and Xinjiang sought to remake themselves and their communities in response to emerging nationalisms and currents of modernist Islamic thinking. This panel highlights the ways this turbulent period was understood and configured in the lives of Muslims between Northwest China and Xinjiang. It looks both to explore forgotten connections across the space of the greater northwest, and to highlight the diversity of intellectual responses to modernity among Muslims in the region. Whereas scholarship on Kazakhs, Hui and Uyghurs has often accepted their status as separate ethnic groups, this panel points to ways in which relations between groups, and heterogeneities within them, helped produce their modern ethnic identities in the context of China’s empire-to-nation transition and the transformation of transnational Islamic networks. Overall, the panel maps an uneven yet discernible grafting of ethnicity, region, religion, and nation onto sect, locality, translocality and other pre-existing categories of identity.

This panel is designed to create discussion between participants: Wang Jianping explores neglected pan-ethnic, pan-regional religious solidarities through a history of the Khagana Yarkand. The remaining papers turn to biographies of individuals. Marie-Paule Hille explores the diverse responses to modernity and the nation among Muslims who did not travel widely, through her examination of the life of a Gansu local intellectual, whilst Zukosky explores Kazakhs and the KMT. Hannah Theaker's response paper draws on her own work on Muslim modernities and rebellion in Gansu and Xinjiang.